By Surendranath Dasgupta
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Additional info for A History of Indian Philosophy, Volume I
3, 4. It was the forces of nature and her manifestations, on earth here, the atmosphere around and above us, or in the Heaven 49 beyond the vault of the sky that excited the devotion and imagination of the Vedic poets. Thus with the exception of a few abstract gods of whom we shall presently speak and some dual divinities, the gods may be roughly classified as the terrestrial, atmospheric, and celestial. Polytheism, Henotheism and Monotheism. The plurality of the Vedic gods may lead a superficial enquirer to think the faith of the Vedic people polytheistic.
The earliest literature of India is the Vedas. These consist mostly of hymns in praise of nature gods, such as fire, wind, etc. ), there is not much philosophy in them in our sense of the term. It is here that we first find intensely interesting philosophical questions of a more or less cosmological character expressed in terms of poetry and imagination. In the later Vedic works called the Brâhmaf@nas and the Âra@nyakas written mostly in prose, which followed the Vedic hymns, there are two tendencies, viz.
Thus in the @Rg-Veda we find that the poet in one place says, "what was the wood and what was the tree out of which they built heaven and earth [Footnote ref. " Heaven and Earth are sometimes described as having been supported with posts [Footnote ref 4]. They are also sometimes spoken of as universal parents, and parentage is sometimes attributed to Aditi and Dak@sa. Under this philosophical aspect the semi-pantheistic Man-hymn [Footnote ref 5] attracts our notice. The supreme man as we have already noticed above is there said to be the whole universe, whatever has been and shall be; he is the lord of immortality who has become diffused everywhere among things animate and inanimate, and all beings came out of him; from his navel came the atmosphere; from his head arose the sky; from his feet came the earth; from his ear the four quarters.
A History of Indian Philosophy, Volume I by Surendranath Dasgupta